At the beginning of the year, our own Josh Kaufman wrote a great article on why we are so lucky to have Coach Larranaga. Josh did a great job of breaking down the X's and O's, recruiting, and use of personnel. Suburb knowledge of the game is always key for a successful coach, but lets look past the X's and O's. What really sells Coach L is his coaching "intangibles." Yes, coaching intangibles or he has the "it" factor are exhausted terms in sports realm and are rarely, but before you click on the back button lets have some fun (It will be worth your time, at least to me)! Lets make the attempt to narrow down Coach Larranaga's intangibles (Trust me, it is a lot more fun than thinking about the current state of football).
There are No Excuses:
Now I could have missed a press clipping or have forgotten an instance (I would chalk it up to a demanding football career, but lets be honest backup holders do not take a lot of punishment) but has anyone heard an excuse from Coach L? He embraces the challenge and has been able to draw eyes away from the team that plays at Sun Life. Remember in 2006 when Dwyane Wade attended the FSU-Miami football game? Well now Wade and that guy who plays for the Cavs (Yeah, still have not moved on) showed up to a Miami hoops game! When have you heard Coach L say anything about facilities not being up to par with other ACC teams, a lack of talent in the area, Miami not being a basketball school, or when games at the BUC do not sell out. He shows up and puts out a team that believes they can win any night.
Enjoys being at Miami:
He always appears to be thrilled to be coaching at Miami. One factor that makes this easier for Larranaga is he probably knows this is his last stop before retirement. This is not a young coach just using the Canes as a stepping stone (or many stepping stones like the prior coach). Still, in an industry where many peers his age just look tired, rundown, and miserable, Coach L has a lot of energy and excitement. Just look at what happened this past weekend when he called a very sick ex-player, who played one year, as a freshman, and it was over 65 YEARS AGO, to dedicate the Duke game to him! WHAT?!?! That's probably the most uplifting story you will hear all year (and some know I am sucker for uplifting stories)! What stuck out most was how Larranaga said "Once a ‘Cane, always a ‘Cane." This is refreshing and it feels genuine! How many times have you heard coaches at Miami or others schools (Lane Kiffin anyone?) say something similar, and the next day they are on to the next program, never looking back.
Players want to Play for Him:
Miami team's coached by Larranaga; always appear to be bought in. He seems to relate to the kids and get the most out of them on and off the court. Could you even imagine how good the 2007 and 2008 teams with Jack McClinton, Dwayne Collins, and Jimmy Graham would have been with Larranaga at the helm? The announcers from this weekend's game even commented how McCellan was drawn to Miami and especially Larranaga because of the team's trip to Austin in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. While his "intangibles" played a lot into it, it was most likely from Larranaga creating the greatest college basketball coach GIF of all time.
Not sure if you know this, but Miami is not a hot bed of basketball talent (I know I'm just as stunned). The new basketball shoes from adidas will probably not have "State of Miami" on the side. Has this stopped Coach L from attracting talent? Knowing that recruiting the top prospects was not realistic; Coach L had to adjust and has been very successful bringing in talented transfers. The ACC Championship team had Kenny Kadji and you could easily throw the transfer label on Shane Larkin, since he did have to ask DePaul for a transfer request. This year, if it were not for Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McCellan leaving the Big 12, there would be nothing to move on from Shreveport.
With all the negativity around other coaches at the school (I give you one guess to figure who I am referencing) lets take a minute to appreciate what we have. We have a coach that has the X's and O's and the intangibles. Golden's choice to visit the Cowboys and other coaching staffs is great. Every the coach can learn, but instead of crossing the Gulf, maybe Golden could hop the canal and pay a visit to coaches located at the BUC. It is time we all listen to Josh and realize, "We are so lucky."